Just A Closer Walk With Thee

This month of “walking with Jesus” wouldn’t be complete without this well-known gospel song. Although it is widely used, and has been performed by many artists, the origin of the hymn is unknown. It is believed to predate the Civil War, as some personal African American histories mention “slaves singing a song about walking by the Lord’s side as they worked in the fields.”

It gained national popularity in the 1930s, when African American churches used it at musical conventions.  By the 1940s, the hymn was featured at all night gospel singing rallies.  The first known recording was made on October 8, 1941 by the Selah Jubilee Singers.

It is often used on Lutheran Via de Cristo retreats.

The words are based upon 2 Corinthians 5:7:

 For we live by faith, not by sight. “

For more songs used on Via de Cristo weekends see these posts:

Wind, Wind Blow on Me

Borning Cry

Seek Ye First

Go and Tell

Go Tell It On the Mountain is an African-American spiritual dating back to at least 1865.  It has been performed by many choirs and gospel singers over the years, and is usually considered a Christmas song because it centers around the birth of Jesus, and the first people to hear that good news — the shepherds.  It’s also been a favorite of my granddaughter, Katelyn, since she was a little girl.

For more about the shepherds in the Christmas story, go to these posts:

Why the Shepherds? Part 1

Why the Shepherds? Part 2

 

Remember Me, Lord

Do Lord is a traditional African-American spiritual, and the author is unknown.  I don’t know if it is based on a particular scripture, but when I wrote my post about the two thieves on the cross, this is the song that came to my mind. Connecting the song and Bible story make it more meaningful for me.  I hope you’ll enjoy this version sung by Johnny Cash.

It’s Me

“Standing in the Need” is an African American spiritual, and, like many folk songs, its origin is unknown. Both text and tune became well known after their publication in The Book of American Negro Spirituals (1925), compiled by James Weldon Johnson and his brother,]. Rosamond Johnson.

Using hyperbole, or exaggerating to make a point, the text brings a very specific message: “I need prayer!” Obviously all the other persons mentioned in the text need prayer as well-yet the text stresses the individual’s need for prayer. Such an understanding of this text permits its use in corporate worship-in which we all realize that each of us needs prayer just as much as all of us need prayer. The text emphasizes personal responsibility within a larger context of community.

Liturgical Use:
As a call to prayer, this song should be part of a time of sung and spoken and silent prayers-for forgiveness, of course, but also for healing, for gratitude, for more fervent faith, and so on.

This song came to mind when I was reading Praying for Strangers.  One of the lessons the author learned is that everybody needs prayer.

It’s me, it’s me, O Lord,
standing in the need of prayer.
It’s me, it’s me, O Lord,
standing in the need of prayer.

1 Not my mother or my father, but it’s me, O Lord,
standing in the need of prayer;
not my mother or my father, but it’s me, O Lord,
standing in the need of prayer. [Refrain]

2 Not my brother or my sister, but it’s me, O Lord,
standing in the need of prayer;
not my brother or my sister, but it’s me, O Lord,
standing in the need of prayer. [Refrain]

3 Not the stranger or the neighbour, but it’s me, O Lord,
standing in the need of prayer;
not the stranger or my neighbour, but it’s me, O Lord,
standing in the need of prayer. [Refrain]